Over seven years ago, when I was at the end of my tether, I started a blog under a pseudonym, Carly G. I wrote it only to vent, to let people learn from my bad choices.  I didn’t think I’d have enough material to keep it going, but as time and life went on, and took turns I didn’t expect, it became my favorite thing to write. I don’t think I’ve written any fiction in at least six months, but I’ve kept my Rebound Dogs blog active.  This author blog has been quiet except for occasional recipes but worry not. I’ve been writing. It’s not fiction but it comes from the heart and is meant to share and to inspire.

This week the book version of the first 98 blog posts was released. HERE is the link.  to Amazon where you can read it all in one book. You can of course always go directly to the site and read for free. The first entry in the book is from May so be sure to check out the new posts. Here’s the Rebound Dogs link. 

Someday maybe I’ll get back to fiction, but for nowcover promo.jpg the happy stuff, the real stuff, the life experiences and observations I write about without a fictional spin are filling my soul.

 

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I became a vegatarian a year ago and have been trying a lot of different recipes. At first I lived on fake meat products, like fake fish sticks or fake chicken patties or veggie burgers. Those were delicious but after a while I got tired of those things. I went tbrough a seitan phase (see previous posts) but that bothered my stomach. Note, I still LOVE Quorn sliced turkey and the meat free bologna in my grocery store.

I’ve been in a rut eating frozen veggie cauliflower pizza too often. I love it but I should eat healthy and not just vegetarian. I stumbled across a variation of this recipe on Pinterest. In that one, the poster made seitan and floured it and sauteeed it. I didn’t want to do that. I also didn’t have some of the ingredients or didn’t like some, or wanted to save myself work. So it’s not the same recipe at all but it inspired me to make this one.

Here is my version which doesn’t have meat or fake meat, just spices, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and a few other things. To me, it tastes just like the hearty New England beef stew I grew up with except each spoonful is missing the piece of beef. And I’m good with that.

Here goes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I cooked mine in a Dutch oven. If you don’t have a pot you can  cook it on the stove but I’m not sure how long it would take. The oven was very easy.

Ingredients:

  • Half bag of baby carrots
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut in small, bite-sized chunks
  • 1 large onion sliced very thin (I like vidalia onions but anything will work)
  • 1 large spoonful of minced garlic
  • Cream of mushroom soup (do not add to pot until later)
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms (do not add to pot until later)

In the pot on the stove add together:

  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbl Kitchen Bouquet
  • 1 tsp salt (I use Himalayan salt)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • one pinch ground cloves
  • 1 tbl apple cider vineger

Heat just enough to combine. Dump in all the vegetables listed above except mushrooms. Cover and place in the oven for an hour.

Meanwhile, put the mushrooms on the stove in a small pan and sautee on medium heat with a little veggie broth until tender. Add the can of soup and stir until combined then remove from heat.

When the pot of stew is done (check for tenderness and add more time if needed) pour in the mushroom and soup combo and stir. This will give the stew a thick gravy and adds a lot of flavor.

Enjoy! Let me know if you make it and have any suggestions.

 

yin rice 1

Though I gave up eating meat about six months ago, I was still eating a lot of unhealthy foods. A little under a month ago I decided to really buckle down and take a hard look at what I was putting into my body. Sure I had no meat and almost zero dairy or eggs, but I will still eating a lot of sugar, and a lot of refined carbs.

There were a few factors that pushed me into this new healthy eating, which I’ll cover in another blog, but what matters is that in the 28 days or so since I gave us everything that was bad for me, I’ve lost 12 pounds! Since I’ve still got quite a bit more to lose, and since everything I’m making is vegetarian, probably even vegan if I’m honest about it, I wanted to share some of my recipes that have made my new lifestyle fun, and a lot more enjoyable than my standard white bread. fake bologna sandwich with chips that I called healthy before.

I’m always on Pinterest and the Internet scouting out new recipes so I want to give some back.

Today’s recipe was inspired by something I saw online, but except for two ingredients (black rice and hazelnuts) and the overall concept, mine is completely different.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked black rice (I bought this in a bulk bin at Sprouts and got about 2 cups for $3)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts (also bought from the bulk bins and found inexpensive for the small amount I needed)
  • 1 can white cannellini beans, washed and drained
  • jar of roasted red peppers (I used about 1/4 cup of peppers plus 1/2 cup of the juice)
  • 1 tsp of juice from a jar of capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted pepper and garlic seasoning
  • 1/2 vegetable broth for the rice, about 1/4 cup for the beans
  • Water
  • avocado for garnish (optional)

The steps-

Soak the rice in a glass or metal dish. The rice will emit a purple dye and this may stain a plastic container. I soaked it for a few minutes then rinsed it several times in a strainer.

yin rice 3

Drain the rice and add it to the rice cooker with 1 cup of water and a 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Hit the Brown Rice button. If you don’t have a Brown Rice button, I read that 25 minutes should do it.

Meanwhile, add the hazelnuts to a food processor and turn it on while adding small amounts of water until it’s creamy. I ran into an issue here because it was a small amount of nuts and my machine didn’t cream it well but did chop. I added about 1/4 cup of water but this can vary so add a little at a time. Ideally this will be like a nut butter.

When the rice is done, mix the creamed nuts to the rice. It needed more flavor so I added the teaspoon of caper juice to it. That did the trick for me but feel free to add other flavors. For me, this was just the right amount of saltiness to meld the nuts and black rice. Set this mixture aside.

yin rice 2

Rinse the beans under the sink and add to a food processor. I added a half cup of juice from the roasted red pepper jar.  It still needed something so I went though my spices and found roasted pepper and garlic seasoning. I added a 1/2 teaspoon. That brought everything together but it was still not right. I finally chopped up 1/4 cup of the red pepper from the jar and added that in. Perfect!

yin rice 4

With all my flavors exactly how I wanted them, I shaped them into the Yin Yang symbol. I didn’t use all the rice mixture, maybe about 2/3 of it, but I can eat the rest another time. You could probably use it all so long as the shape doesn’t lose its integrity. I know the colors are off (not black and white) but it was flavorful and pretty. I used a shot glass to make a perfect circle in a piece of pepper, and a slice of avocado for the other side, as shown.

This made a delicious dinner which even my vegetable resistant boyfriend tried and enjoyed.

yin rice 1

Happy healthy eating!

 

 

 

finished chickenAbout six months ago I became a vegetarian after being scared straight by the movie Okja. I was scared almost straight several years ago after watching Forks Over Knives, and again when I visited my doctor and was told I need to get my cholesterol down. But this time it stuck. Maybe it’s because I have a house full of animals now and just had a couple back then, or because I’m older, or because I’m a Californian now.

I’ve been doing well with the life change and have no interest whatsoever in going back to real meat. Sometimes though, I enjoy a meat substitute. I bought some  Primal Strips “beef” jerky online recently and really liked it. I read that it was made from Seitan. I’d never heard of this before and did quite a bit of research to figure out what it was, how to make it, and how to pronounce it.

For starters, I think it’s pronounced (Say-tahn) accent on the second syllable. My BF calls it Satan because he hates meat substitutes.

Through much trial and error I am posting my recipe and directions for Chicken Seitan. It came out good on the first try and I’ve made it twice since. You can eat it straight out of the steamer, sliced or chopped, but it’s better mixed into something.

Two variations I’ve tried were making into “Chicken” salad. For that I put one of the four hunks of cooked “meat” into the food processor and mixed it with mayo, some BBQ spices and chopped celery. It tasted and felt a lot like real chicken salad.

chicken salad

Another variation was for Buffalo Chicken Dip which I’ll show directions for in another blog entry. We ate it all and I forgot to take pictures.

Below is the recipe for the Chicken Seitan base. Change the spices around as you see fit. Substitute it anywhere you’d use chicken and it should come out just fine. I’ve tried it in stir fry and cold salads and it’s perfect!

Chicken Seitan

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  • 1.5 cups cold broth
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1.5 cups vital wheat gluten (You can get this at any grocery store in the baking aisle)
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (I got this at my Sprouts-your grocery store may not have it)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp poultry seasoning
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp onion powder

Whisk together broth and oil, set aside.

rib mix

Mix dry ingredients and then knead for 3 minutes. I start mixing with a spoon to cut down on mess, then used my hands once it pulled together. It’ll be elastic and you won’t need flour or oil. It’s not sticky.

knead

Let it rest for 10 minutes then knead for 15 seconds. Cut in 4 pieces.  Wrap loosely in foil and steam for 30 minutes. I used my rice cooker on Steam. Super easy.

steamer

Let it cool for 30 minutes before putting in fridge.

Store it in zip lock bags. These pieces will stay good in the fridge 2 weeks. You can freeze them for months..

 

 

Stage 32A couple of years ago when I was attending a Writers’ Conference in Atlanta, I attended a panel about screenwriting, and how to sell your book or script to Hollywood. The main messages were: It’s really hard to do, network like crazy, learn your craft, don’t give up, network some more, know your market, write well, and network like crazy.

Being somewhat shy, I have an issue with networking like crazy. I can do it when I have to but it’s not my favorite thing. There was one other big message. Get an account on Stage 32.

It’s a great site that lets you meet other writers, and pitch your work. It shows you how to pitch your work. They’ve got articles and classes and contests…

I did this some time ago and every once in a while sent in pitches for my TV pilot. I always take the written pitches and never the Skype ones because, well, the shy/ insecure thing. I’ve done it twice and got kind of mean feedback on one, because of a typo in the pitch, and a note that the format of the pitch was wrong. It’s worth noting that the format is shown as an example on the Stage 32 site. The second pitch’s receiver was very nice (had a small typo of her own and didn’t mention mine). She really liked it and said the writing was very good and it was an original story. Not enough to take it, but she gave me hope and gave a valid critique. Both resulting in my tweaking my pitch and logline.

I had forgotten that I’d entered the Happy Writers 3rd Annual TV Writing Contest back in February. The thing that’s good about contests is that I usually get feedback, it makes me feel like I’m trying to sell my work, and it’s all electronic.

I was very happy to open an email the other day letting me know that I placed in the TOP 10 in the contest. I didn’t win but that’s okay. Even placing in the top 10 is a big deal, to me at least. It boosted my confidence just enough that maybe I’ll try to market it a little harder, and maybe even write a new screenplay or book or story one of these days.

7 LilyI want to apologize if it seems as if I’ve dropped off the earth, and never update my blog. I have not, in fact, ceased to exist. It’s true I have not written any fiction in months and months. I have not published new books, or sold (or tried to sell) any short stories. The pilot and bible I wrote for the supernatural drama TV series is sitting in a virtual drawer.

I have however been pouring a lot of effort into my Rebound Dogs blog. This is a blog I created over six years ago under a pseudonym. It started as a way to vent about the horrors of dating, about weight loss, about getting a Rebound Dog instead of a Rebound Boyfriend.

As it turned out, in the midst my spewing venom, I met a nice guy in California (on Facebook). The blog chronicles my transformation from jaded, angry, steadfast New Englander to happy, well-adjusted Californian. When I go back and read the first entries, I’m surprised at how much I’ve changed, and how much my and my daughter’s lives have changed.

My publisher, Shadowridge Press aka, the Nice Guy From California, will be publishing the blogs in book form, starting from that first fateful day when I snuck off to Starbucks to type my anger into a newly created blog, to the most recent from a couple of weeks ago, when I wrote one I thought was a good place to stop. My eighth grade English teacher Mrs. Chadwick used to say, when asked how long something needed to be, “as long as it needs to be.” And that recent entry was a good stopping point.

The blog will continue, of course, as I find through my other self, my Carly G, that I’m able to dig deep into my emotions and write about them in a way I just can’t as Tracy C. It’s therapeutic for me and keeps my brain from atrophying.

Here is a link to the blog, which I encourage you to check out REBOUND DOGS. In a few months, the book form will be available in print and on Kindle and maybe I’ll even try to set up some signings.

Until then, this blog may be a little dormant except for an occasional recipe.

Have a wonderful day!

-Tracy

Since I haven’t written a blog in a long time, I thought I’d start with a snazzy heading. It makes it seem as if I write for television already.  After living in Southern California for about three and a half years, I’ve noticed that more often than not, that’s how many writers present their work: as if they’ve already sold it.

If they write a script and send it to a contest, it is “being reviewed by industry professionals.” In prose fiction we call this “Waiting for a rejection.” I have not fallen into the trap of outward optimism toward my projects, that is tempered only by continual inner pessimism.

Instead, I am doing what I have always done. I write because it’s fun, or because I have something troubling I need to purge, or both. I wrote a novel after I moved here, a short one. I also wrote some short stories. But then I tried my hand at a screenplay. I thought it was utterly brilliant. However, one person tore it to shreds-rightfully so. Two others said something along the lines of “there’s too much going on for a feature.” Okay fine, not utterly brilliant at all. But kudos for me for being excited about it.

One friend pushed me to make it into a television series. This all sounds really cool, but all it means is that I took the feature and spread it over 10 episodes, including a fully fleshed out pilot. I sent the pilot to a friend and he said, “This is really good but there’s no hook.” So I watched a lot of pilots on Netflix, and came up with a hook. And I rewrote. Then the fantastic title I had before Pretty When She Cries didn’t make sense anymore. Nor did a lot of wonderful things in the original feature script. Like the fact the main point was the villainous grandmother figure who I had to soften up for TV to instead make her likeable. She went from being utterly detestable to somehow starring on the show because that’s what will sell, a tough as nails, strong, funny misunderstood matriarch. Or so I’m told.

In the end, I have a pilot and a treatment and a logline and a synopsis. There. Done. Except now what?  Living in the area, I could hit the streets and schmooze like crazy, and probably I still wouldn’t sell it. But I’d have a better shot than my plan now which is to work full-time and occasionally enter it into a contest.

A few months pack I paid to list my logline and synopsis on a website that supposedly sells to producers. Early on I got a notification that ABC had it under review. I was excited but then nothing ever happened. They never asked me for my well written script or the treatment. When later two more movie companies also had it under review, I rolled my eyes. It’s still under review and I don’t think that amounts to anything at all.

I will say writing scripts and writing TV episodes is a lot more fun than writing prose. It all happens so fast and you can “show” so much better than telling. A single action, if written well, can send ripples of fear or angst to a viewer far more than a few paragraphs of well-chosen words to describe it.

It was hard to get used to not using a character’s introspection to relay the story, but eventually that came too.

There are so many channels now on cable, on Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and web series. I keep hearing that everyone is starving for content. I’m jumping up and down and saying “I have content. Look over here!!!!” So far, no one has heard me.

I think in the coming months I will have to double down, get over my shyness, and really work to make connections, or at the very least, go to a lot more sites that help promote these sorts of things. If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know.

Until then, I will be thinking of the next thing to write, even if it never makes it to the big screen, or the little TV screen or the smaller computer or tablet or phone screen.